Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 25 May 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 18 December 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2022 May. 25]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19, viewed 25 May 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
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The long-term welfare of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members is of importance as the nature of military service may mean serving and ex-serving personnel are exposed to a greater number of risk factors that may influence their likelihood of experiencing homelessness, including:
At 30 June 2018, there were more than 58,000 permanent current ADF members (Defence 2018). In addition, as at 30 June 2018, there were estimated to be around 641,300 living veterans, this figure includes all living persons who have ever served in the ADF either full-time or as reservists (DVA 2018).
Serving ADF personnel have access to housing and rental assistance through Defence Housing Australia. However, once personnel discharge from the ADF they are no longer able to access this housing support. Current or former ADF members can access a range of housing and homelessness services through government and non-government organisations (Defence 2017). To provide a better understanding of the extent to which current or former ADF members may need support from specialist homelessness services (SHS), the Australian Defence Force (ADF) indicator was introduced into the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC) in July 2017.
It is important to note that variability in the implementation of this item means that coverage is incomplete and limited analyses are possible for 2018–19. As is common with new data items, there was a high number of ‘don’t know’ (9%, down from 14% in 2017–18) or ‘not applicable’ (30%, up from 29% in 2017–18) responses to the ADF question in 2018–19. A ‘don’t know’ response is selected if the information is not known or the client refuses to provide the information while a ‘not applicable’ response is selected if the client is under the age of 18. Expectations are that data quality will improve over time. Further details about the ADF indicator in the SHSC are provided in the Technical information section.
The Use of specialist homelessness services by ex-serving ADF members 2011–12 to 2016–17 report used linked data to identify contemporary ex-serving ADF members (those who discharged after 1 January 2001) who had used services between 2011–12 and 2016–17. The report provides a longer term view of client, prior to the implementation of the ADF indicator in the SHSC.
The SHS ADF indicator is applied when a client self-identifies as a current or former ADF member. The ADF indicator is not applicable to clients who may have served in non-Australian defence forces, reservists who have never served as a permanent ADF member or clients under the age of 18. Note that differences between the results of this and other publicly reported estimates may be due to differences in how an ADF member is defined. Further details about the ADF indicator in the SHSC are provided in Technical information.
In 2018–19, clients who self-identified as current or former members of the ADF (Table ADF.1):
More than half (52%) of clients who were ADF members were experiencing homelessness at the time of seeking SHS support, which was higher than the general SHS population (42%).
Number of clients
Housing situation at the beginning of the first support period (proportion (per cent) of all clients)
At risk of homelessness
Length of support (median number of days)
Average number of support periods per client
Proportion receiving accommodation
Median number of nights accommodated
Proportion of a client group with a case management plan
Achievement of all case management goals (per cent)
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2017–18 to 2018–19.
In 2018–19, of clients who identified as current or former members of the ADF (Supplementary table ADF.1):
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2018–19, Supplementary table ADF.1.
In 2018–19, the highest number of clients accessed services in Victoria (44% or more than 600 clients) (Table ADF.2).
Housing situation at the beginning of support
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2018–19.
In 2018–19, of clients who identified as current or former members of the ADF (Supplementary table ADF.4):
In 2018–19, clients were either presenting to SHS agencies for the first time as new clients or had previously been assisted by a SHS agency at some point since the collection began in 2011–12 (Supplementary table ADF.7). More than a third of clients in 2018–19 were new (35% or almost 500 clients; compared with 45% of the general SHS population). One in 4 (25%) new clients were aged 45–54 years and an additional 1 in 5 (21%) were aged 35–44 years. Of those clients returning to SHS agencies for assistance (65% or around 900 clients), males were more likely to be aged 45–54 (32% or almost 200 clients), while females were more likely to be aged 25–34 (25% or almost 100 clients).
SHS clients can face additional vulnerabilities that make them more susceptible to experiencing homelessness, in particular family and domestic violence, a current mental health issue and problematic drug and/or alcohol use.
In 2018–19, of the more than 1,400 clients who self-identified as members of the ADF, almost 2 in 3 (66%) reported experiencing one or more of these vulnerabilities:
Family and domestic violence
Mental health issue
Problematic drug and
or alcohol use
SHS agencies provide a range of support services. For clients who self-identified as current or former members of the ADF receiving SHS support in 2018–19 (Supplementary table ADF.5 and ADF.6):
In 2018–19, the provision of support services to clients varied based on their identified need on presentation (Supplementary table ADF.3):
Compared with the general SHS population, clients who self-identified as members of the ADF were more likely to need:
For clients with a known housing status who were at risk of homelessness at the start of support (450 clients), by the end of support (Interactive Tableau visualisation):
For clients who were known to be homeless at the start of support (just over 400 clients), agencies were able to assist:
Defence (Department of Defence) 2018. Defence Annual Report 2017–18. Canberra: Department of Defence.
Defence 2017. ADF member and family transition guide: a practical manual to transitioning. Canberra: Department of Defence.
DVA (Department of Veterans Affairs) 2018. Department of Veterans’ Affairs Annual Report 2017–18. Canberra: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
McFarlane A, Hodson S, Van Hooff M & Davies C 2011. Mental health in the Australian Defence Force: 2010 ADF Mental Health and Wellbeing Study: Full report, Department of Defence: Canberra.
Searle, A, Van Hooff M, Lawrence-Wood E, Hilferty F, Katz I, Zmudzki F & McFarlane A 2019. Homelessness amongst Australian contemporary veterans: pathways from military and transition risk factors, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), Melbourne: AHURI.
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